When you are given a suspended sentence, the judge specifies the jail penalty that you will face if your probation is revoked. Suspended sentences are usually only allowed on house of correction sentences and not state prison sentences. You could receive straight probation for state prison sentences, but the sentencing judge cannot suspend a state prison sentence. The sentencing judge can suspend any amount of jail time up to the maximum for the offense. For example, if you are facing one count of assault and battery in district court. The maximum penalty for the charge is 2 ½ years in jail. The judge could suspend any amount of time up to 2 ½ years. So the judge could suspend 1 day, 2 months, 9 months, 2 years as long as it is 2 ½ years or under.
Say if the sentencing judge gives your probation and suspends 2 years of jail time as part of your disposition. If you violate the terms of your probation and the judge wants to sentence you to jail, the judge must sentence you to 2 years. With suspended sentences, the judge that finds you in violation of probation cannot sentence you to an alternative jail sentence.
If you have a suspended sentence it does not mean that a judge needs to find you in violation of probation. Even if a judge finds you in violation of your probation, the judge does not need to impose the suspended sentence. The judge could place you back on probation and give you a second chance. The judge could terminate your case unsuccessfully. The judge could give you a fine. However, if you have a suspended sentence in your case and you are found in violation of your probation, you are likely to be sentenced to the suspended time.